Grace to you!
Death is one of the strongest words in our everyday life. Its necessary reality—inevitability—is as scary as the memory it brings. Hardly does anyone like to make death a topic of discussion, even though it is a certainty. Death is more certain than the security or wealth of nations put together.
All of us have witnessed the death of relatives or friends. It is one of those moments we pause and think about in an instance, if not for a while, musing what life is all about.
We like to evade or suppress the memories of death. The thought that someday a loved one, such as a spouse, a mom or a dad, whose strength is going down, will die in the foreseeable future sometimes stimulates a near panic attack. We simply don’t want to think about it let alone talk about it.
Evasion is my best way to describe our commonest response to the memories of death. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross’s Best Seller On Grief and Grieving coauthored by David Kessler engages what they called the five stages of grief. They include denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Even the thoughts about imminent or future reality of death could stimulate some of these emotions. It’s a human response.
It could be why death has numerous euphemisms to make the reality a little more palatable. Pass, asleep, kick the bucket, journeyed home, home at last, in heaven, etc.—these are some words we create so the reality of death will sound more pleasant.
For us Christians, the euphemism such as sleep or sleep in peace or asleep with the Lord, isn’t simply a mere empty, feel-good word. It’s one of the best concepts to describe the death of someone who dies in the Lord.
See how Saint Paul used it: “But we would not have you ignorant, brethren, concerning those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope” (I Thes 4:13).
Saint Paul goes on to tell us that for the believer, life is not ended here. We rise in glory to see the Lord in the communion of the Trinity. In another place he reminds us, “If we have died with him [Christ], we shall also live with him” (2 Tim 2:11–12).
Observe that for the believer, death is tied to hope, Christian hope. This hope is Christ who is our life and resurrection.
The Lord himself reassures us: “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live” (Jn 11:25).
The pain of losing a loved one is excruciating. When we remember the fun memories we had with the person, the jokes and even the arguments, we feel the weight of the loss.
Nonetheless, we are comforted knowing that dying in the Lord is sleeping to rise again. We call it sleep and rightly so, because we shall awake into glory.
So, our acceptance of the reality of sleeping in the Lord is a comforting realization that we will arise in a home of much blessedness, joy and glory in heaven.
Praying for the grace of a happy death. Amen.
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
[Monday Week 22 Ordinary Time A: 1 Thes 4:13-18; Lk 4:16-30]
Fr. Maurice Emelu
Father Maurice provides a daily blog of reflections based on the bible readings of the day from the Catholic liturgical calendar. You will find these reflections helpful for your spiritual growth, inspiration and developing your own thoughts. It may also be helpful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations.